hit ed from THE DUBLIN REVIEW
BURNS y GATES
28, ORCHARD STREET, LONDON, W.
JULIAN GRENFELL had such shining qualities of
youth, such strength and courage and love, that to
others who are young he seems like the perfection of
themselves. They know so well day by day just what
their own youth can fall to and rise to ; and it is when
their youth rises most, to its utmost fierceness and
tenderness, that they come near to him, who was made
of those things. And the young can mourn in their own
special way the young that die ; it is they who realize
that when a man of few years dies, a mature man and an
old man die too ; and it is they who have ahead of them
all their maturity and age in which still to want the
companionship that has failed. They look forward to all
those " partings still to be." They have lost a known
friend now, but all their lives they will be losing someone
different, and unimaginable. (It is one of the terrors of
their loss of one they love — the thought that in what he
would have become and said and thought and done, he is
unknown like a stranger.) They know that hardly an
event will arise in their most distant days which will
not be far less than it might have been. As they look
forward to their sure and simple possessions which they
prize, weather and firelight and activity and growth, the
friend who would have contributed a richness they cannot
imagine is only a phantom there — dear, and growing
stranger. They have plenty of time ahead to be losers of
so many things — what, they will never know. The young
are like a mourner who lingers on at a grave after all the
others have departed.
When Julian Grenfell, who died when he was twenty-
seven, sent home from the trenches his poem Into Battle
he not only sent great and pure poetry but also tidings
about the fighter that had the sound of his own single
discovery. The noble self-sacrifice of the fighter was
well known, and in everyone's heart ; the mere adven-
turous joy in the clash of arms with which some could
carry through this many-sided task of battle was known
too. But, though it may not have fallen to Julian
Grenfell alone to feel, it has fallen to him alone to express
those two things so combined until they brought to him
the certainty of Nature's utter sanction of the fighter, and
the consciousness of the whole universe upholding him
with all her mysteries. For what he wrote of a kind of
natural ecstasy in the upright soldier's heart, Julian
Grenfell is among the most notable figures of an age at
war. And in another way he was a shining example of
one of the great qualities the war has brought to light —
that of filial love.
He was born, the eldest son of Lord Desborough, in
1888, and went first to Summer Fields, and then to Eton
and Oxford. He and his brother Billy were like twins,
though Julian was two years older. During the whole of
their school and college career they made one long record
of triumphs, so that in all those years of Summer Fields,
Eton and Balliol, as each time there arose the crisis of
suspense when examinations drew near, so each time came
news of the uttermost success. When Julian left Summer
Fields for Eton at the age of thirteen he already had a
serious conscious love of religion such as was the tradition
of his home. He was to have a life of wild physical
activity, but he had a faith which could never be out-
stripped or left apart even from the boldest venture. He
linked his belief to all the physical activities that he so
much loved. Faith has been carried among strange
scenes and places by men in their enterprises, but faith has
ridden her maddest rides with Julian, and with him on
horseback made her wildest leaps into the air. All his
life, faith was the implicit companion of his energies.
But now this thirteen-year-old belief was a very definite
straightforward thing, and had its expression in the
simplest words. He was still at Summer Fields. There
had been a very bad thunderstorm. He said : " I
suddenly seemed to realize God." It was with him as
with the poet who wrote : " I saw Eternity the other
night." In his after life he again referred more than once
to what he had experienced then. In his early years at
Eton he began his love of Thomas a Kempis.
The holidays were rich for the two boys with every kind
of sport. Julian had begun at seven years old to follow
and track animals ; and at that age he could fire a gun, and
could, with Billy, catch nineteen trout in an afternoon.
They also went out stalking with their father. As they
grew older, the holidays were filled with riding and
shooting and fishing. At Baledmund, Julian got up at five
every morning to go out after roe-deer, and here a sea-
son's record of the two boys together was : " 277 grouse,
41 partridges, 5 woodcock, 6 snipe, 4 caper-cailzie, 33
hares, 210 rabbits and 6 roe-deer." Julian was master of
the Eton Beagles while he was also editor of the Eton
Chronicle, and near the top of the Sixth Form.
In October, 1906, Julian went to Balliol. He was 6 ft.
•£ in. in height ; and Billy, who was sixteen, was taller.
They were growing fast. In 1909 Billy went to Balliol
too. They were both so full of happiness of life, there
was no failure for them anywhere in their work or in their
sport or in their friends. Billy wrote once : " I wish I
was not so passionately addicted to pleasure ; I find my-
self plotting for it every moment of the day, especially
when I ought to be thinking of that solemn humbug
Aristotle." Only Julian at one time seemed occasionally
cold and removed from those around him; he was re-
proached for not knowing more people in college ; and
free and general intercourse continued for a while to be a
difficulty with him in spite of his great love for his great
friends, and he said : " I wish social plans had one neck and
me a knife." Billy, writing after Julian had died to a friend
who had known him at Oxford, said : " You knew all the
mysticism and idealism, and that strange streak of melan-
choly which underlay Julian's war-whooping, sun-bath-
ing, fearless exterior." And sometimes Julian was ill and
depressed, the result of his great growth, and because he
never spared his body the rigorous training necessary to
the athlete. The worst form depression could take with
him was when he felt himself separated from God. If he
lost his sense of communion with God, he could not be
happy or well until he was possessed of it again.
Reading aloud had been a great feature of their young
family life, and lasted after they were grown up. When
they were away they liked to send their mother lists of
what they read. From Billy, for instance : " I am
reading, in various stages, The Shaving of Shagpat, The
Egoist, Redgauntlet, Garibaldi, the Homeric Hymns,
Aristotle, and Virgil." And from Julian : " I've read
Gilbert Murray's Hippolytus again — the best thing ever;
some Dante Rossetti ; the Psalms ; the Imitatio Christi ;
and Belloc, endlessly." Nothing of what they read or
what they did was complete until they had discussed it
with their mother.
And this leads to the crowning glory of their lives, so
that in any record which is permitted of them there is one
quality which must stand out beyond all their other ones ;
they were two young men who had a passion of filial love.
This is a kind of love which the war has revealed in such a
degree that its quality can be plainly seen and dwelt upon,
like a comet that has swum closer. It has found most
beautiful expression in many books of privately-printed
letters, both in French and English. Its quality is
different from the two other great forms of love, maternal
love, and men and women's love. It is not, like those,
prompted by Nature ; it is one of the emotions that be-
long to man when he transcends Nature, and takes upon
himself divine virtue. Nature inspires those other loves,
and adorns them with joy and rewards them with happi-
ness. But filial love has not even a beginning in Nature, it
is not found there, and is divine from the first. And never
can it have been more faithful and more passionate than it
was in these two. It was never narrowed down to ties of
habit or gratitude or dependence, for with them it was
beauty, it was humour, it was thought, it was the best of
In 1910 Julian's brilliant time at Oxford came to an end.
His horizon widened to take in distant countries to which
he would soon travel — to take in, too, all the distant
hopes of his mind eager for truth. He had written from
Balliol : " I utterly agree that building up character for its
own sake is a blank dead thing, with no ultimate end . . .
But I am just dimly beginning to see my end, I do believe;
very little and very dim, but still a beginning. And of
course I agree that an ultimate end must satisfy all the
needs of the soul ; it must do more than that, it must be
far, far, far above and beyond all those needs, a pure ideal,
something wholly unattainable, you must have millions of
miles of outlook." It had been arranged from earliest
years that he was to be a soldier, and that Billy would go
to the Bar. Julian passed in to the army First of all the
University candidates. His regiment, the Royal Dra-
goons, was in India ; his last months in England, before join-
ing it, were full of the joy of keen sport and of his friends.
One of the best loved companions of Julian's life was Lord
Lucas ; they had their unspeakable gallantry in common,
both in life and death. This friend wrote when Julian
died : " You know that I was fonder of Julian than of any
living man, and never can anyone else be the same to me
as he was ... I think of all the happy times we had, and
of his spirits, his keenness, his skill, his intense enjoyment
of everything that boy or man, sportsman or poet, loves ;
and it seems that a great part of my life is torn from me."
In November Julian sailed for India, and there the new
forms of sport, the buck-stalking and polo, filled him with
delight. " The pig-sticking is beyond dreams, I can't
tell you what it means to me ; it is coursing with human
greyhounds." He wrote, too : " The rains have come,
but not real continuous rains; we go out on odd days to
stick pig, in country blind with new bright green grass, so
that you gallop down a hidden well without any warning
and without much surprise. I'm afraid all other sports will
fall flat after this." And he has got the very essence of
sport — iron-hardness, and suspense, and glorious speed —
into his letters from " this jungly place," — where
" directly the rains come, the grass grows as fast as a horse
In the winter of 1911 the regiment was moved to
South Africa. At first Julian was dismayed by the
change and felt himself an outcast in a barren place.
In a letter he said : " I do hate thinking of having
missed a wonderful English spring, in this pestilential
continent where spring makes no difference, and comes in
the autumn." But soon he said : " I am getting fond of
it in a way, almost against my better self," and he grew
to love the veldt with its " terrific greatness and greenness
and dullness and bleakness." In South Africa he had his
greyhounds with him ; he had always had a special love
for these animals ; he had owned them from the time when
he was nineteen, when in an autumn in Scotland the whole
family after packing themselves into a small motor for
excursions would have the greyhounds poured on the top
of them like water. He now wrote a poem To a Black
Greyhound, of which this is part :
Shining black in the shining light,
Inky black in the golden sun,
Graceful as the swallow's flight,
Light as swallow, winged one,
Swift as driven hurricane,
Double-sinewed stretch and spring,
Muffled thud of flying feet —
See the black dog galloping,
Hear his wild foot-beat.
See him lie when the day is dead,
Black curves curled on the boarded floor.
Sleepy eyes, my sleepy-head —
Eyes that were aflame before.
Gentle now, they burn no more ;
Gentle now and softly warm,
With the fire that made them bright
Hidden — as when after storm
Softly falls the night.
He wrote : " I've never had such good long dogs as now ;
four great big lashing dogs, and this little pup, who is the
best of the lot. I do think that greyhounds are the most
beautiful things on earth ; they have got all the really
jolly things — affection, and courage unspeakable, and
speed like nothing else, and sensitiveness and dash and
grace and gentleness, and enthusiasm." He never cared to
be parted from them. He took some greyhounds even
out to France with him, and in one of the last letters
that he wrote before he received his mortal wound he
said : " The long dogs were very good when I got back
here. A kind woman at the farm had kept and fed them for
me. One had been run over by a motor-bus, but was none
the worse. We arrived in the middle of the night, and
when they heard my voice they came out of the yard like
shrapnel bursting. ' Comrade ' jumped up on to my
horse's shoulder, and when he fell back they all started
fighting like hell from sheer joy ! " In South Africa he
also played polo. "My ponies," he said, "are like Greek
sculpture, only with a neater style of galloping ; just think
how tired it would make you to play eight chukkers on
horses which always had four legs in the air at once." He
wrote also : " The ground is composed of holes and
stones, thinly covered by a rough grass called Prati-
vesticula. Thus for the horseman two alternatives lie open.
Either you fall over the stone into the hole ; when all
that has to be done is to roll the stone on top of you, and
write the epitaph on it. Or, if you are careless enough to
come down in the hole, and fall on to the stone, they have
to lift your body, place it back in the hole, lift the stone,
clean it, roll it on top of you, etc. — which means ' more
work for the undertaker.' I hope you follow me ? " Julian
was a renowned boxer, and he scattered challenges into
the unknown. Of a fight he had in Johannesburg he
A man who was in training for the Amateur Championship
said he would come and fight me. He was a fireman, called Tye ;
he used to be a sailor, and he looked as hard as a hammer. I
quaked in my shoes when I saw him, and quaked more when I
heard he was 2 to I on favourite for the Championship, and
quaked most when my trainer went to see him, and returned with
word that he had knocked out two men in a quarter of an hour.
We went into the ring on the night, and he came straight for me
like a tiger, and hit left and right ; I stopped the left, but it
knocked my guard aside, and he crashed his right clean on to the
point of my jaw. I was clean knocked out ; but by the fluke of
Heaven I recovered and came to and got on my feet again by the
time they had counted six. I could hardly stand, and I could
only see a white blur in front of me ; but I just had sense to keep
my guard up, and hit hard at the blur whenever it came within
range. He knocked me down twice more, but my head was
clearing every moment, and I felt a strange sort of confidence
that I was master of him. I put him down in the second round,
with a right counter, which shook him ; he took a count of eight.
In the third round I went in to him, and beat his guard down —
then crossed again with the right, and felt it go right home, with
all my arm and body behind it. I knew it was the end, when I
hit ; and he never moved for twenty seconds. They said it was
the best fight they had seen for years in Johannesburg, and my
boxing men went clean off their heads, and carried me twice
round the hall. I was 1 1 stone 4 lb., and he was n stone 3 lb.,
and I think it was the best fight I shall ever have.
All this time in India and South Africa he was working
hard at his profession. He had, too, been kept supplied
with books from England. He wrote : "Thank you for
copying ' Since there's no help.' I'm reading no litera-
ture now, only Military Law with both eyes ; it is just
the opposite to literature, and is expressed throughout
in just the wrong words and just the wrong way." He
said in another letter in relation to a book he had
read : " I hate material books, centred on whether
people are successful. I like books about artists and
philosophers and dreamers and anybody who is a
little off his dot." He wrote again : " I agree with what
you say about success, but I like the people best who take
it as it comes, or doesn't come, and are busy about
unpractical and ideal things in their heart of hearts all the
time." Julian was now as always fulfilling his " great
task of happiness," which made all his life seem like one
long act of praise. " I'm so happy here," he wrote, " I
love the Profession of Arms, and I love my fellow officers
and all my dogs and all my horses." In the midst of
cramming for his Promotion Examination he made a high
jump on his horse Kangaroo which was a record for South
Africa, clearing 6 ft. 5 in. over a wall with bricks on the
In July, 1914, he was dwelling on the prospect of leave in
England when the first rumours of war reached him. He
longed for England for different reasons now. He was
afraid at first that his regiment might be kept in South
Africa or sent to Egypt. He wrote : " Don't you think
it has been a wonderful and almost incredible rally to the
Empire ; with Redmond and the Hindus and Will Crooks
and the Boers and the South Fiji Islanders all aching to
come and throw stones at the Germans. It reinforces
one's failing belief in the Old Flag and the Mother
Country and the Heavy Brigade and the Thin Red Line,
and all the Imperial Idea, which gets rather shadowy in
peace time, don't you think ? But this has proved it to
be a real enough thing."
On September 2oth Julian reached England and
went with his regiment straight to Salisbury Plain. He
had two days' leave at home. On the night of October
5th the Royals left for France. " It seems too good to be
off at last," Julian wrote : " Everyone is perfectly bird."
Julian's sister Monica had already become in the first
days of the war a probationer at the London Hospital, and
Billy had got his commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the
Rifle Brigade. It had been suggested to Billy that he
might postpone joining the Army until after the All Souls'
Examination in the autumn, for which he had been
working hard. But he could not stay for the fruits of his
work any more than he could stay for other things that
made life glorious to him. They were already beginning
to lose their friends — that great company of their friends
who would soon lie dead on many battle-fields, one of
whom, Charles Lister, wrote just before he was killed in
Gallipoli : " I know now that I shall live. I do not mean
that I may not be killed." The first of these to go was
Billy's dearest friend, John Manners, who in September
was wounded and missing and was never heard of again.
Billy translated from the Latin a poem written about him
by Mr. Headlam :
O heart-and-soul and careless played
Our little band of brothers,
And never recked the time would come
To change our games for others.
It's joy for those who played with you
To picture now what grace
Was in your mind and single heart
And in your radiant face.
Your light-foot strength by flood and field
For England keener glowed ;
To whatsoever things are fair
We know, through you, the road ;
Nor is our grief the less thereby ;
O swift and strong and dear, Good-bye.
These are extracts from some of Julian's letters from
" We have been fighting night and day ; first rest
to-day for four days. The worst of it is, no sleep prac-
tically. I cannot tell you how wonderful our men were,
going straight for the first time into a fierce fire. They
surpassed my utmost expectations. I have never been so
fit or nearly so happy in my life before. I adore the
fighting, and the continual interest which compensates
for every disadvantage."
" I longed to be able to say that I liked it, after all one
has heard of being under fire for the first time. But it
is beastly. I pretended to myself for a bit that I liked it,
but it was no good, it only made one carelesss and un-
watchful and self-absorbed ; but when one acknowledged
to oneself that it was beastly, one became all right again,
and cool. After the firing had slackened, we advanced
again a bit into the next group of houses, which were the
edge of the village proper. I cannot tell you how muddling
it is. We did not know which was our front. We- did
not know whether our own troops had come round us on
the flanks, or whether they had stopped behind and were
firing into us. And besides, a lot of German snipers were
left in the houses we had come through, and every now
and then bullets came singing by from God knows where.
Four of us were talking and laughing in the road, when
about a dozen bullets came with a whistle. We all dived
for the nearest door, and fell over each other, yelling with
laughter, into a very dirty outhouse. James Leckie, the
Old Old Man, said ' I have a bullet through my best
Sandon twillette breeches.' We looked, and he had.
It had gone clean through. He did not tell us till two
days afterwards that it had gone through him too."
" Here we are, in the burning centre of it all, and I
would not be anywhere else for a million pounds and the
Queen of Sheba. The only thing is that there's no job
for the cavalry. So we have just become infantry, and
man the trenches. I believe we're getting entrenching
tools, which is good hearing. We want them. Colonel
Burn is taking this, so I've only time to write one word of
love. He's off. He tells me I was reported dead. But
there's life in the old dog yet ! Bless you both."
" I have not washed for a week, or had my boots off for
a fortnight. But we cook good hot food in the dark, in
the morning before we start, and in the night when we
get back to our horses ; and we take our good cold rations
with us in the daytime. It is all the best fun. I have
never, never felt so well, or so happy, or enjoyed anything
so much. It just suits my stolid health, and stolid nerves,
and barbaric disposition. The fighting-excitement vita-
lizes everything, every sight and word and action. One
loves one's fellow-man so much more when one is bent on
killing him. And picnicking in the open day and night
(we never see a roof now) is the real method of existence.
There are loads of straw to bed-down on, and one sleeps
like a log, and wakes up with the dew on one's face. The
stolidity of my nerves surprises myself. I went to sleep
the other day when we were lying in the trenches, with
the shrapnel bursting within fifty yards all the time, and
a noise like nothing on earth. The noise is continual and
indescribable. The Germans shell the trenches with
shrapnel all day and all night ; and the Reserves and
ground in the rear with Jack Johnsons, which at last one
gets to love as old friends. You hear them coming for
miles, and everyone imitates the noise ; then they burst
with a plump and make a great hole in the ground, doing
no damage unless they happen to fall into your trench or
on to your hat. They burst pretty nearly straight up-
wards. One landed within ten yards of me the other day,
and only knocked me over and my horse. We both got
up and looked at each other, and laughed. It did not
even knock the cigarette out of my mouth. . . . We took
a German officer and some men prisoners in a wood the
other day. One felt hatred for them as one thought of
our dead ; and as the officer came by me,f I scowled at
him, and the men were cursing him. The officer looked
me in the face and saluted me as he passed, and I have
never seen a man look so proud and resolute and smart
and confident, in his hour of bitterness. It made me feel
terribly ashamed of myself."
"About the shells; after a day of them, one's nerves
are really absolutely beaten down. I can understand now
why our infantry have to retreat sometimes ; a sight
which came as a shock to one at first, after being brought
up in the belief that the English infantry cannot retreat.
. . . We had been worried by their snipers all along, and
I had always been asking for leave to go out and have a
try myself. Well, on Tuesday the i6th, the day before
yesterday, they gave me leave. Only after great difficulty.
They told me to take a section with me, and I said I
would sooner cut my throat and have done with it. So
they let me go alone. Off I crawled through sodden clay
and trenches, going about a yard a minute, and listening
and looking as I thought it was not possible to look and
listen. I went out to the right of our lines, where the
loth were, and where the Germans were nearest. I took
about thirty minutes to do thirty yards; then I saw the
Hun trench, and I waited there a long time, but could
see or hear nothing. It was about ten yards from me.
Then I heard some Germans talking, and saw one put his
head up over some bushes, about ten yards behind the
trench. I could not get a shot at him ; I was too low
down, and of course I could not get up. So I crawled
on again very slowly to the parapet of their trench. It
was very exciting. I was not sure that there might not
have been someone there, or a little further along the
trench. I peered through their loop-hole and saw nobody
in the trench. Then the German behind put his head up
again. He was laughing and talking. I saw his teeth
glistening against my foresight, and I pulled the trigger
very slowly. He just grunted, and crumpled up. The
others got up and whispered to each other. I do not
know which were most frightened, them or me. I think
there were four or five of them. They could not trace
the shot ; I was flat behind their parapet and hidden. I
just had the nerve not to move a muscle and stay there.
My heart was fairly hammering. They did not come
forward, and I could not see them, as they were behind
some bushes and trees, so I crept back inch by inch.
" I went out again in the afternoon, in front of our bit
of the line. About sixty yards off I found their trench
again, empty again. I waited there for an hour, but saw
nobody. Then I went back, because I did not want to
get inside some of their patrols who might have been
placed forward. I reported the trench empty.
" The next day, just before dawn, I crawled out there
again, and found it empty again. Then a single German
came through the wroods towards the trench. I saw him
fifty yards off. He was coming along upright and careless,
making a great noise. I heard him before I saw him. I
let him get within twenty-five yards, and shot him in the
heart. He never made a sound. Nothing for ten minutes,
and then there was a noise and talking, and a lot of them
came along, through the wood behind the trench about
forty yards from me. I counted about twenty, and there
were more coming. They halted in front, and I picked
out the one I thought was the officer, or sergeant. He
stood facing the other way, and I had a steady shot at
him behind the shoulders. He went down, and that was
all I saw. I went back at a sort of galloping crawl to our
lines, and sent a message to the loth that the Germans
were moving up their way in some numbers. Half an
hour afterwards they attacked the loth and our right, in
massed formation, advancing slowly to within ten yards
of the trenches. We simply mowed them down. It was
rather horrible. I was too far to the left. They did not
attack our part of the line, but the loth told me in the
evening that they counted 200 dead in a little bit of the
line, and the loth and us only lost ten.
" They have made quite a ridiculous fuss about me
stalking, and getting the message through. I believe they
are going to send me up to our General and all sorts. It
was only up to someone to do it, instead of leaving it all
to the Germans, and losing two officers a day through
snipers. All our men have started it now. It is the
He was twice mentioned in despatches, and when he
came home for a week's leave in December he was wearing
the D.S.O. ribbon. At the end of January, 1915, he again
came back for a week, his last leave. In May he sent home
the poem Into Battle:
The naked earth is warm with Spring,
And with green grass and bursting trees
Leans to the sun's gaze glorying,
And quivers in the sunny breeze ;
And Life is Colour and Warmth and Light,
And a striving evermore for these ;
And he is dead who will not fight ;
And who dies fighting has increase.
The fighting man shall from the sun
Take warmth, and life from the glowing earth ;
Speed with the light-foot winds to run,
And with the trees to newer birth ;
And find, when fighting shall be done,
Great rest, and fullness after dearth.
All the bright company of Heaven
Hold him in their high comradeship,
The Dog-Star and the Sisters Seven,
Orion's Belt and sworded hip.
The woodland trees that stand together,
They stand to him each one a friend,
They gently speak in the windy weather ;
They guide to valley and ridges' end.
The kestrel hovering by day,
And the little owls that call by night,
Bid him be swift and keen as they,
As keen of ear, as swift of sight.
The blackbird sings to him, " Brother, brother,
If this be the last song you shall sing
Sing well, for you may not sing another ;
In dreary, doubtful, waiting hours,
Before the brazen frenzy starts,
The horses show him nobler powers ;
O patient eyes, courageous hearts !
And when the burning moment breaks,
And all things else are out of mind,
And only Joy of Battle takes
Him by the throat, and makes him blind —
Through joy and blindness he shall know,
Not caring much to know, that still,
Nor lead nor steel shall reach him, so
That it be not the Destined Will.
The thundering line of battle stands,
And in the air Death moans and sings ;
But Day shall clasp him with strong hands,
And Night shall fold him in soft wings.
Battle-poems are as various as any other kind of poem.
The mere fighting-song usually ranks about on a level with
the drinking-song. And though a poem of the actual
movement of battle, of the march or the charge, may
be fine, there is generally more passion in the war-
poem that is still, — the poem that is written in the
pause ; the poem not of the end of battle, but of interval,
of time for breathing and the recovery of consciousness
of self after self-abandonment. And such is this poem.
It is a wonderful work of the stillness of a soul's con-
sciousness of itself. It is a fortunate man who can thus
gather himself up in the realization of the duty he is
about, and be so sure and so happy. Other people — gather-
ing themselves up in the calm of duties that are yet not
terrible and not perplexing and not ambiguous as the
duties of war must be — wait long and in vain to feel such
certainty and such joy.
On the evening of May I2th the Royals were put about
500 yards behind the front line, near the Ypres-Menin
Road, to support an attack on the German trenches run-
ning north from Hooge Lake. The Royals were behind
a small hill : Julian spoke of it afterwards as the little hill
of death. Early in the morning of the I3th the Germans
started a terrific bombardment of this hill. Julian went
up to the look-out post. He was knocked over by a shell,
which only bruised him. He went down again and made
the report of his observations. He then volunteered to
get through with a message to the Somerset Yeomanry
in the front line, which he succeeded in doing under very
heavy fire. When he returned he again went up the hill,
with his General. A shell burst four yards away, knocking
them both down in a heap. A splinter had struck Julian's
head. He said : " Go down, Sir, don't bother about me ;
I'm done." The General helped to carry him down, and
was wounded while doing so. Julian revived, but said to
a brother officer: "Do you know, I think I shall die."
When he was contradicted he said: "Well, you see if I
don't." He was taken to the clearing-station. He asked
there whether he was going to die, and said : "I only want
to know ; I am not in the least afraid." He was then
taken to the hospital at Boulogne, his sister coming from
the Wimereux hospital, where she was nursing, to give
him the care that he so loved to have from her. The
surgeon asked him how long he had been unconscious
after he was hit. He said : " I was up before the count."
He had his parents beside him. His strength and youth
were fighting against the deadly poison of his wound.
During all those eleven days when he lay there he prayed,
probably unaware that he often spoke aloud. Sometimes
he prayed that he might be able to bear the pain. The
Psalms and the hymns of his childhood were said to him
aloud ; that was what he liked, also George Herbert's
poems. The weather was very hot ; those beside him
heard him repeat the song in Hippolytus :
"O for a deep and dewy spring,
With runlets cold to draw and drink,
And a great meadow blossoming,
Long-grassed, and poplars in a ring,
To rest me by the brink.
O, take me to the Mountain ; O,
Past the great pines and through the wood,
Up where the lean hounds softly go,
A-whine for wild things' blood,
And madly flies the dappled roe.
O God, to shout and speed them there,
An arrow by my chestnut hair
Drawn tight, and one keen glimmering spear —
Ah, if I could! "
" His voice was very weak. He said it with overpowering
Billy arrived in France with his regiment, and came to
Julian's bedside — not, though they were like one soul, to
mourn (during that time Julian never saw a face he loved
look sad), but still to know the joy and triumph of all their
living moments. And without having spoken one word
contrary to that spirit of noble unfailing happiness, but
having uttered many words of love, Juhan died on the
afternoon of May 26th.
Billy was already in the trenches, and during June and
July he was constantly under fire. He wrote of Julian :
" I love to think that he has attained that perfection and
fullness of life for which he sought so untiringly. I seem
to hear him cheering me on in moments of stress here
with even more vivid power. There is no one whose
victory over the grave can be more complete." He
also wrote : " Death is such a frail barrier out here, men
cross it so smilingly and gallantly every day, one cannot
feel it as a severing in any way. Pray that I may bear
myself bravely when the burning moment breaks." In
July he wrote to his mother : " Darling Julian is so con-
stantly beside me, and laughs so debonairly at my qualms
and hesitations. I pray for one-tenth of his courage."
On July 3Oth Billy was killed in a charge to take trenches
near the Hooge crater. Leading his platoon, he attempted
to cross the 250 yards of open ground under terrific
machine-gun fire. He had gone 70 or 80 yards when he
pitched forward dead. He was perfectly fearless ; he had
been loved in an uncommon way for his great and lovely
gifts, and it was said by his men that he had raised the
standard of goodness about him.
What can be our attitude of mind towards those who
die thus and also towards those who endure their loss ?
When pain and grief overwhelm their victims and conquer
their endurance, then those who are within reach can
bring their charity and lay it at the feet of the suffering —
all their most tender charity of love and compassion. But
there are times when that charity is defied by something
that is more heavenly than itself. Charity is a virtue of
the earth ; its pity, its tolerance and its love, are like
white angels dedicated to be the guardians of human
failing and grief and sin, and in a sense charity will fade
out in heaven like a ghost in daylight. And so even on
earth it can stand aside, unneeded, while there go past
swift figures, wounded by suffering and loss and death,
their faces bright, too bright for resignation and too
bright for pity — and to watch such a figure go by is to
see the immortal spirit.
Letter written to Julian's mother by Charles Lister, not
long before he was killed :
Blue Sisters Convent, Malta.
I can't write what I feel about dear Julian. The void is so
terrible for me, and the thought of it quite unmans me. Pd so
few ties with the life I left when I went abroad — so few that is
to say that I wanted to keep, and I always felt as sure of Julian's
love as he did of mine, and so certain of seeing his dear old smile
just the same. . . .
I suppose everybody noticed dear Julian's vitality, but I don't
think they were so conscious of that great tenderness of heart
that underlay it. He always showed it most with you ; and with
women generally it was his special charm. I think now of the
way he used to take my hand if he had felt disappointed with
anything I had done and then found out why I'd done it. I remem-
ber a time when he was under the impression that I'd chucked
Socialism for the " loaves and fishes," etc., etc.; and of course that
sort of thing he couldn't abide, and he thought this for a longish while ;
then found out that it wasn't that after all, and took my hand in his
in the most loving way.
I don't suppose many people knew what an ardent love he had
for honesty of purpose, and intellectual honesty, and what sacrifices
he made for them ; and sacrifices of peace-of-mind abhorrent to most
Englishmen. . . . Julian, in his search for truth, and in his search
for what he believed to be his true self, caused himself no end of worry
and unhappiness, and was a martyr who lit his own fires with un-
flinching nerve. Out stalking, he always wanted to do his own workt
and he was just the same in his inner life. Surely the Lady he sought
with tireless faith, the Lady for whom he did and dared so much on
lonely paths will now reward him ? God, it is glorious to think of a
soul so wholly devoid of the pettiness and humbug, the cynicism and
dishonesty of so much that we see. There is a story in one of Miss
Kingsley's books of a West African Medicine-man, who found
himself at death's door. He applied all his herbs and spells, and
conducted all his well-worn rites before his idols, and with his friends*
intercessions — without any effect. At last he wearied of his hocus-
pocus, and took his idols and charms down to the sea-shore and
flung them into the surf, and he said, " Now I will be a man and
meet my God alone." Julian, from the time I knew him, had
flung away his idols and had met God. His intense moral courage
distinguished him even more than his physical bravery from the
run of common men — and his physical bravery was remarkable
enough, whether he was hunting, boxing, or whatever he was at.
/ think he found his true self on what we all knew would be the
scene of his glory ; and it is some melancholy satisfaction that
his services received recognition. What must make you still
happier is the glorious glowing tone of those letters of his, and the
knowledge that his last few months were " crowded hours of glorious
life " — stronger in death in that they abide. I shall never forget how
much they heartened me, when I came to see you to get your kind
offices for this show. *The recollection of them will be a constant
strength. No one wrote of the War like that, or talked of it that way —
and so many went from Leave, or after healing wounds, as a duty, but
without joy. Julian, apart from the physical delight he had in
combat, felt keenly, I am sure, that he was doing something worth
while in the world ; and looked on death and the passing beyond as a
final burst into glory. He was rather Franciscan in his love of all
things that are, in his absence of fear of all God's creatures — death
He stood for something very precious to me — -for an England
of my dreams, made of honest, brave, and tender men ; and his
life and death have surely done something towards the realization
of that England. "Julian had so many friends who felt for him as
they felt for no one else, and a fierce light still beats on the scene
of his passing, and others are left to whom he may leave his sword and
a portion of his skill.
You must have known all this splendour of 'Julian's life far
better than I did, so I don't know why I should write all this. But I
am so sad myself that I must say something to you, because you know
how very fond I was of Julian.
One can seek comfort at this time in the consciousness of the
greatness of our dead, and the work they have left behind them,
and the love we have borne them : and such comfort is surely
yours — apart from any larger Hope.
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